Undesirable Plants That Crowd Out Crop Plants or Native Species

Weeds and weather aren't the only factors that can be detrimental to plant growth. Species with aggressive growth habits can choke out plants gardeners are trying to cultivate. Certain plantl wrap around stalks causing suffocation, while others' root systems will march through the soil, overwhelming whatever is growing nearby. Be aware of non-native plants banned in your state, and invasive varieties ruin your landscape.

Mile-A-Minute Weed

This annual species, also called Chinese tearthumb, is an Asian native. It is established from West Virginia to Maryland, thriving in many habitats. It is a prickly, vining weed that germinates in early spring. The U.S. Forest Service began targeting and controlling the weed in 1996 using a weevil species that feeds on the plant. Kill mile-a-minute herbicides.


Residents of the South are familiar with the site of kudzu, a fast-growing, non-native vine that is also spreading through the Northeast and Midwest. Leaves grow in groups of three, wisteria-like flowers bloom in the spring and hairy seed pods develop in the fall. Kudzu is strong enough to topple trees. Weed or mow small patches, or control established vines with an herbicide in early fall.

English Ivy

English ivy is a pleasing vine to look at, conjuring images of college campuses. It also grows up trees and has been known to yank them down if given enough time. Cut stems high above the ground, then pull the vines down and apply herbicide to the lower stem parts and foliage. Also pull vines from the ground and dig out the roots.


Bamboo species spread over long distances through rhizomes to form dense thickets that choke out other vegetation. Running bamboo can be deflected from an area by installing an underground barrier that prevents the rhizomes from spreading. The plants will spread elsewhere if a barrier is used. Complete eradication involves digging out all rhizomes. Control larger clumps by cutting the culms, or leaf stalks, at ground level and removing them as you see them.

Pampas Grass

Pampas grass is a non-native ornamental grass that features showy tussocks ranging in hues from pink to white. Not only does it kill native species, but in states where it is particularly invasive, such as California, it is a fire hazard. The grass grows in many climates and is a prolific seed spreader. Get rid of pampas grass by treating it with an herbicide or digging it up.

Keywords: invasive plants, undesirable plants, non-native plants

About this Author

Joy Brown is a newspaper reporter at "The Courier" and www.thecourier.com in Findlay, Ohio. She has been writing professionally since 1995, primarily in Findlay and previously at the "Galion (Ohio) Inquirer" and "Toledo City Paper." Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and history from Miami University.